Opens Under Fire

Paul stands
in a hollow on a mountain.

The hollow does not allow him to view
the broad river valley below.

Most people climb mountains
to view far away things.

Paul hikes the mountain
for a closer look

at the trees and wildflowers
and rock that extends deep into the earth.

Some days he presses his face
into ponderosa pine trunks

to view the variations in bark
and catch a whiff of vanilla.

Other days he sits on a rock outcropping
in a high meadow where pikas live

and watches them become accustom
to his quiet sitting.

They grace him with their presence
and rodent antics.

This is his paradise.
His garden of eden.

He imagines God’s forbidden fruit
described as a pine cone.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Spectacle

Every midsummer’s night
our daughter slips out of heaven
and watches us sleep
in a tossed-covers bed.

If either of us woke
we would see her standing there
in her ethereal-spectral form
with twinkling stars in her eyes.

But we never do wake
to see this spectacle
because she comes to see us
in the innocence of sleep.

The type of Adam & Eve sleep
before the Apple
before the introduction
of the knowledge of good and evil.

Our daughter leaves messages
in the guise of hummingbirds
that there is no good or evil.
Thus we should not suffer.

That message is easiest to believe
during the day in the foothills
when we are among piñon jays
and the junipers are thick with berries.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Twenty-Nine Years On

My father died
on the third of August
nineteen ninety-two
in an auto accident
when he mistook
a two-way stop
for a four-way stop
after surviving
the nineteen-eighteen influenza
the great depression
World War Two
the Korean War
the death of his son
and a heart attack.

At his funeral
and after we spread
his ashes
over the cornfields
he farmed
as a young man
his voice kept appearing
in my ears
with mixed messages
about how I handled
the death of my daughter
and other aspects
of being a man.

If his voice showed up
in my dreams
I could have
written off the experience
as the chaotic language
dreams use for the dead
to communicate with the living
even if their fist pounds
into their open palm
and shouts
I should embrace
the church and work
not therapy
to quiet my pounding heart.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Express

Paul’s grief
chose not to speak
unable to find
the right words.

He purchased words for his grief
over the internet
but they would not arrive
for two days.

In the mean time
Paul supplied his grief
with his drawing pads
and colored pencils

hoping that
it would create a message
through an art image
before his heart broke.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Necessity

Paul pulled his imperfections
outside of himself
and lined them up
like toy soldiers for inspection.

It took all morning
as his imperfections
were not a handful of issues
equal to a squad of ten

but more like an entire corp
somewhere between
twenty and forty-five thousand
rank and file.

He was surprised
when he realized
his well organized imperfections
had support units and a supply chain

with something akin
to a military industrial complex
to lobby for them
state side in his cellular democracy.

Now that his imperfections
were outside of him
Paul looked in the mirror
and noticed he mostly was not there.

One by one he picked up
all of his toy soldier imperfections
and put them back
to their proper places.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Suggesting A Truth

Scientist now postulate
the universe is donut shaped.

There be dragons
where the hole would reside.

The earth might as well be flat again.
Billy lost four teeth today

when he crashed his bicycle
into a telephone pole on purpose.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Kiss of Grace

You kissed me
to dissolve my fears.

What held me together fell away.
I nearly fell apart.

Your beauty
kept my eyes steady.

My nose, fingers and legs
did not wish to leave my eyes behind.

My fingers touched your bare thigh.
A deeper attraction

pulled the rest of me
back into place.

You assured me
that this tranquility

will remain when you stand
to leave.

Your noiseless steps passed the door.
I know silence still.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Polyps

When doctors pushed
sound waves
into my body
the computer screen
displayed abstract art
instead of internal organs.

I explained
it is not the equipment
that is at fault.
I tended to tie myself
into knots.

The nurse told me
tie myself into knots
is just an expression
and cannot
really take place
inside the body.

I deferred to her greater
medical knowledge
then tried again.
It was all the violent
and disparaging words
stuffed in my childhood ears
that I could not digest
which created
a coral reef structure
inside my body’s ocean.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

Why I Have A List Of Favorite Rest Stops

Sadness persists in me.
Like it is an uncharted organ.

Bicycling does much to diminish it.
Photo albums tend to intensify it.

Blueberries on my morning yogurt
signify I have a taste for blueberries.

There are days sadness
pulls me deeper inside myself.

Other days it pushes me
outside my skin.

Drinking shrinks it briefly
then expands it to galactic dimensions.

As sad experiences add up
I do my best to relabel them neutrally.

There is something about driving long distances
that vibrates sadness out of my pores

to steadily drip on the pavement
of the interstate highways I traverse.

I once tried the nomad lifestyle
because of this fact

but ran out of novel roads to drive
at Neah Bay with a view of Waadah Island.

I threw nine amens and hale-Mary’d
my St. Christopher medallion into the ocean

where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the sea
trusting that would pacify my sadness.

It did not. My sadness suggested
we head back to Albuquerque

and the surrounding desert
since the green chile harvest started that week.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney